Sunday, September 7, 2014

Planned Obsolescence

Unfortunately, today's gaming consoles are not built to last quite as long as those of yesteryear.  I've replaced my SNES because I accidentally broke the pins with a repair cartridge (there's your warning if you ever consider buying one), but it was about 15 years old.  But if I wanted to swap the pin set, it was and is possible (I didn't know that at the time).

Modern consoles, starting with the PS3, are not like that due to "security methods" hard coded into the motherboard and drives, which is absolutely ridiculous.  The better to sell more consoles, or charge exorbitant repair costs.

Unfortunately, mine had a system board failure (most likely due to a botched repair on my part coming back to bite me a year later).

Luckily, if it's a chip failure, that can usually be fixed by someone in the know.  I found a great little business here in my area (Simcoe County).

It's called Revamp Repairs, run by Rob Weller.  He does it all on the side, and he does a hell of a lot more work than a lot of the brick-and-mortar places do.  You can reach him by phone at 705-716-8007 or by e-mail at

He stands very firmly by his work; he'll guarantee his repairs for a full year.  If he can't fix it, there's no charge to you.

That said, if any of you would like to post your favoured repair business, please do.  I think they'd greatly appreciate the recommendation and exposure!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Gadgets, Oh My!

Long time no write, I know.  What can I say, I've been catching up on my back log.  At any rate, I found and acquired a very neat little handheld, the Retro Duo Portable.  Made by Retro-Bit, it's a hand-held emulation console.

That's essentially it below:
Sort of.  It also comes with an adapter cartridge to play NES games, and it will accept Retro-Bit's Retro-Gen adapter to play Sega Genesis games.

As it is an emulation console, 100% compatibility is not guaranteed.  Of my NES games, only Strider doesn't work so far, and Snake's Revenge and The Guardian Legend have buggered-up music.  Shame; The Guardian Legend has some of the best music on the SNES.

My few Genesis carts that I have tried all work (Aladdin, Zero Tolerance, X-Men, X-Men 2 and Jungle Strike).

All of the SNES carts that I have tried have worked (I have lots of those).

Battery life is okay, and I actually like the ergonomics.  The speakers suck, though.

What's really cool about it is that it's not just a handheld (no, it's three!  Actually, that isn't it, either), you can also connect it to a TV, connect the controller adapter and a pair of SNES controllers, and get your game on.  That's definitely pretty slick.

Battery life is okay; I get around 5 - 6 hours, and it only takes about 2 1/2 hours to charge.

Recently, I've been bringing it to work to catch up on games I just haven't finished, but I really don't have enough break time for that; either way, I do like it quite a lot.

Ergonomically, it's also not so bad to play; the D-Pad isn't particularly uncomfortable, so marathon sessions are possible (battery life permitting).

Hopefully, someone will make a mass-produced hand-held N64 with the expanded memory pack (and a save game pack!) built-in.  I'd buy that for a dollar (or 5)!!

On the topic of handheld game systems, there are quite a lot of skunkworked ones where people have gutted the actual systems to make battery-operated handhelds running off of the native hardware.

If you have a knack for soldering and know a thing or three about electronics, it would certainly make a neat project.

Otherwise, there are a few hand-held emulation systems kicking around.  Hyperkin has one, the Supaboy, and I think YoBo (FC Twin) does as well.  I've puttered around with the FC Twin, and due to a bad battery (sorry, it shouldn't take over 6 hours to charge a lithium ion battery!), I traded up for the Retro Duo Portable after that.

Unfortunately, none of the emulation systems are currently a 100% compatible solution, but possibly with time and technological advances, they well.  After all, Top Gear 3000 can be played through an emulator when at one time, it couldn't due to the graphics mode that it used.

But damn, they are fun nonetheless - and it's kind of its own reward to see which games do work.

Keep up the good gaming, and I'll see you all next time!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Long Awaited Update (One Can Be Hopeful)?

Geez it's been awhile, eh?!

Work and a lot of gaming will do that to you.

I recently (about two or three months ago) got an older gaming PC up and running, and started catching up on PC gaming that I've been missing.

I've played Far Cry (IMO, the XBox re-do was better), Chaser and Dai Katana (it really does suck) so far, and I've touched on Torchlight (interesting, but I like Sacred and Sacred 2 more). 

I have also been playing the Dead Island series on my PS3, and I have to say, I'm really liking them.  I'm actually trying to figure our why Riptide was raked through the coals.  Only time will tell, I suppose.

What really has my attention right now, though, is this older shooter called Boiling Point, released back in 2005.

Boiling Point was made by a studio based in the Ukraine called Deep Shadows, and, unfortunately, might have been released a little hastily.  I remember it also getting raked through the calls.  But, one patch later, and the game was not only playable, but awesome.

Boiling Point is pretty much the inspiration for the latter Far Cry games, and it shows.  You have a massive open world to explore, a lot of vehicles, and a lot to do.  However, unlike the newer Far Cry games, you have skill-based stats, vehicles require training and licenses to use, and other than the local wildlife (which is incredibly dangerous, by the way) no one is an enemy until you engage them as such; you start the game off on a neutral slate with all involved factions.

So far, I haven't even touched the main story, I've been too busy running side missions, earning money and playing with the weapon upgrade system (which is simple but practical).  I really like the inclusion of multiple ammunition types, as it definitely adds a tactical level that's been missing since System Shock.

The game, ultimately, is kind of like a cross between Far Cry, Deus Ex and hint of Grand Theft Auto (but only a a tiny bit).

Despite the aging graphics (and they are quite aged), the gameplay is extremely refreshing after some of the drivel I've played lately.  Unfortunately, it was a bitch to find.  Yes, I swore, but I can't emphasize this enough.  It's pretty easy to get if you live in the U.S., though - us Canucks will have to use and abuse EBay or Amazon, though.  For you lucky enough to live south of the 49th, though, Atari will gladly sell you the digital download for $9.99 (plus taxes, I assume).  I'm not sure which version it is, though.  If it's 2.0 or higher, you're good.

I've also finished Grand Theft Auto 5.  Excellent game, but...I think Rockstar needs to make GTA V their grand finale.  The online was fun for awhile, but...I'm starting to not care about the series anymore.  Which is a shame, the heists were great.  Being Neil, Michael and Chris (Heat fans will get the reference, I hope) was a lot of fun.  Unfortunately, this is still not part of the online, and I have more games to play than GTA V.

Speaking of which, for those of you who have not played Lego Marvel Superheroes, you are seriously missing out.  It is an incredible amount of fun.  And it's fun that casual gamers can get into, too.  K (aka The Girlfriend) absolutely loves it.  Well, when we're in a mission, anyway.  She's not too keen about the free-roaming.

The skinny on that is that it is the latest Lego free-roamer (Lego Lord of the Rings - also excellent - and Lego Batman 2 being the precursors, if you will).  Aside from going on missions, you also solve puzzles and run side-quests in the free-roam world to get gold blocks to do even more missions, which are a lot of fun.  Like previous Lego games, you not only get to play as the good guys, but the bad guys, too.  Sadly, Magneto wasn't really all that impressive.

Going back to Dead Island and it's sequel, Dead Island: Riptide, I've also been playing those, and they're a lot of fun.  Not true sandbox, play, though; they're like Borderlands in terms of flow and progression, so there are separate "levels", as it were.

For those who aren't familiar, Dead Island is a first-person Action-RPG where you're basically trying to survive an isolated zombie apocalypse that's trying to break loose.  You pick one of four (or five in the sequel) heroes that are immune to the zombie virus, and you beat, hack, slash and occasionally shoot your way to victory in a paradise lost. 

Each character levels up and earns skills, and aside from a plethora of weapons that you can pick up, you can also combine them with other mundane items to craft even better gear - and upgrade them, too.

And zombies aren't your only enemy, either.  Aside from the different classes of the walking dead, you also fight humans, too, and you can use the same weapons against them as you can the zombies, although humans seem more resistant to melee weapons and weaker to guns; the zombies are the exact opposite, barring the shotgun.

Like Borderlands, the game also has online co-op for up to four players, too, so you can slaughter zombies alongside your friends or strangers, whichever you prefer.

My goal at this time is probably to finish Boiling Point, then maybe Far Cry, and then go back to Dead Island.  In the middle of that, I'll hopefully also finish Lego Lord of the Rings, which is, by far, the least disappointing Lord of the Rings game that I've played.  And yes, I have played Return of the King and War in the North, but not Third Age.

Hopefully (fingers crossed), I'll start seeing weapon repair kits in Boiling Point.  The wear feature is interesting and while I am allegedly supposed to see repair kits, I can't buy the, anywhere.  I guess I'll just have to trudge onward. 

And to you, I say happy playing, and a good morning, afternoon or evening.